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NBA Rumors: Lakers Upset, Feel Like They Got 'Played' By Kawhi Leonard

(via New York Post)

(via New York Post)

After meeting with Kawhi and his team, the Lakers quietly and patiently awaited his decision. Then they waited some more.

In fact, it was not until July 6th that Kawhi would make the announcement that he was headed to the Clippers, suspiciously just hours after his reported plea with the Lakers to delay officially consummating their trade for Anthony Davis until the 7th.

The Kawhi "sweepstakes" left the Lakers without not only the 2x Finals MVP but also without several other key free agents. Kawhi kept the Raptors, Clippers, and Lakers in limbo up until he finally announced -- holding up what the Lakers and Raptors could do in free agency. By the time he committed to the Clips, there was practically nobody left on the market.

The circumstances certainly reek of manipulation, and ESPN's Brian Windhorst said that the Lakers have already connected the dots. According to him, Lakers are upset because they feel like "they got played" by Leonard and his camp. The Raptors, who spent literally an entire season wooing the star, feel much the same way and were unhappy because Leonard "came in and asked for the sun, the moon, the stars then left them at the altar."

(via Clips Nation)

(via Clips Nation)

Say what you want about Leonard and the situation, but it is hard to ignore the way things went down. Kawhi was supposedly "taking his time" with the decision, but how could that be if he had been recruiting Paul George to the Clippers behind the scenes the whole time? At one point, Leonard even changed the location of one of his meetings with the Lakers so he could be closer to his meeting location with Paul George later that night.

And if it was really about having a running mate, why not stay with the Raptors or sign with the Lakers right away? They both had a solid core already in place by free agency, while it took the Clippers nearly a week to pull off the George trade. Kawhi's absurd and unrealistic demands from Toronto and the suspicious timing of his free agency draw a very compelling question: was he ever really considering not joining the Clippers this summer? If not, then the other squads participating in the humble pursuit of Leonard certainly have something to gripe about.

But at the end of the day, we'll never really know. That, perhaps, might be the worst part about it.